Your music video may have only played once or twice on MTV, but it’s on permanent rotation on YouTube. We watch videos and TV performances—the good, the bad, the hilariously dated—with musicians to find out what they were thinking. MAGNET’s Robert Ham caught up with Meat Puppets‘ Cris Kirkwood to discuss a 1982 live clip of “Walking Boss.”
Videos like this remind me why YouTube is such a wonderful thing for music history. Fans and neophytes can watch bands move from their earliest, shaggiest attempts at music making to their most triumphant moments to their most current shaggy attempts at music making. From its 1980 beginnings, no group seemed shaggier than the Meat Puppets, especially when compared to their punk-rock brethren on SST Records. The trio—brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood on guitar and bass, respectively, along with drummer Derrick Bostrom—had long, unkempt hair, specialized in psychedelic country rock and generally acted like it should have been at home listening to Grateful Dead bootlegs instead of burning up the highway on tours with Black Flag and the Minutemen. Since the time of this 1982 clip, the Meat Puppets went through a major-label renaissance thanks to the alternative explosion of the early ’90s, and they appeared alongside Nirvana on that band’s episode of Unplugged. Spurred on by Cris’ heroin addiction, the Meat Puppets have broken up twice, but they reconciled in 2006 (with new drummer Ted Marcus) and are currently gearing up for the release of their 12th album, Sewn Together.
MAGNET: What can you tell me about this video?
Cris Kirkwood: The video was shot at Target Video in San Francisco. They were chroniclers of the scene and had asked us to their studios so they could tape us doing a handful of songs live. I vaguely remember being nominally miffed at the time because they had us do several takes on one of the songs from the first album. Back then, we were all about “the moment” and it seemed to take some of the piss out of it, trying to capture anything more than just what the fuck we were gonna do any ol’ way. But I was always the more, uh, dense member of the ensemble, if you will, so my slant on all this shall require the taking of considerably more than a grain of the proverbial salt. This was not an attempt by the band at making a “music video,” as evidenced by the fact that it’s not nearly lo-fi and half-assed enough.
YouTube dates this to 1982. What were things like for the band at this point? What outlets did use back then to expose your music and videos to your audience?
As far as pre-Internet outlets that the band used for self-promotion, we used to drive around town and scream at people and unrepentantly treat each other, and ourselves, horribly. I personally found that keeping careful tabs on the accumulation of lint in my navel was also a powerful P.R. tool. Quack. As for how things were for the band back then—and now, for that matter—need you look any further than my pitiable need for acceptance? As in, the collective whimpering of the band was our nightly soporific. Oink.
Was that a typical outfit for Derrick to be wearing at this point in the band’s lifespan—a tie-dyed T-shirt and bandana?
Yes, Derrick’s T-shirt was totally typical for him at the time, as he was in his pre-Bryan Adams phase and had yet to have his pectoral implants.
Is it strange to watch footage of yourself from 27 years ago?
It’s not strange to see videos of us from that long ago. Just gross.
What sort of memories does this drum up from that time period?
Memories are like assholes; everyone has one and they all make a wonderful starting-off point for a delightful evening of jocular musings, camaraderic repartee and heart-warming reminiscence, steeped in romance and tradition. And bad smells!